County plannng

Commissioners are saying that this year’s update of the county comprehensive plan is a generational duty, something that will guide the county like a compass for years to come.

So, cost cutting isn’t the first priority. Getting the plan right is. The plan is seen as the road map for an agricultural county dealing with the pressures of an expanding region. How exactly will Madison County react to growth?

“I’m thinking this is a generational quest to finalize something we can be proud of,” said commissioner Derek Doster.

Doster and commissioner Terry Chandler both emphasized the importance of having professional help from a firm that assists counties in comprehensive planning. They want a vast collection of information from the public, from surrounding counties, from any source that can help guide the way.

“This is probably the most important thing we’ll address as a board of commissioners,” said Chandler. “…We’ve got to know clearly who we are as Madison County. And we have to have a good picture of what those outside forces may do to us.”

The statements from Doster and Chandler followed a suggestion by new zoning office director Christopher Roach that the county do the update in-house and save about $250,000. He noted that firms hired to assist in the update will primarily gather information from the county, but he said the county could do that on its own, adding that hiring someone could be redundant.

Commission chairman Todd Higdon echoed that sentiment, noting that the Regional Development Commission (RDC) can provide the service at a low cost, since it is subsidized by the state to cover such updates. Higdon said the benefit of the plan will be determined by how much effort the county puts into the process.

“I think we all need to be on the same table, but I believe the RDC is going to be the best option,” said Higdon.

That was met with an emphatic “no” from Doster, Chandler and Terry Adams.

“This is an important investment,” said Chandler. “…Based on my perception of what we need, I think we’re way beyond them (the RDC).”

Doster said he didn’t think the job could be handled in-house.

Adams said the RDC is unsuited for the role.

“If we go and use the Regional Development Commission, we might as well go in yonder, get the notebook that they gave us before, slide the cover sheet out of it, put 2022 in it and we’re done,” said Adams. “They don’t have a clue what Madison County is. And they never will.”

The board ultimately agreed for two commissioners, Doster and Chandler, to hold Zoom meetings with two potential firms recommended by Roach as the best options: Hall Consulting Inc. and Southern Prosperity Consulting.

Locations

(2) comments

Allyana Ziolko

In other words, they want to hire some out of county or out of State firm that will charge the county thousands of dollars to tell us what they think we need cause we couldn't possibly know that ourselves.

Virginia Moss

Let's see, $250,000 divided by 10 years would be $25,000 a year; by 20 years would be $13,000 a year. Madison County is at a pivotal point where developmental pressures are pushing hard. Things are going to change, for the better if we get it right. What happens right now with this planning will make a profound difference in our future. At this point a more sophisticated approach would be in order to be fully confident that the best decisions are made for the future, even if it means limiting development in favor of agriculture.

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